Puslapio vaizdai

once forsake political life, in every shape and form, and hand over the entire direction of affairs to women. Women would crowd the legislatures, for it would be impossible to keep them out—and women would occupy all the Cabinet positions. Undoubtedly women would find their way into the legislature when they could induce the majority of men and women voters in the constituencies to elect them. But, in the first place, if a constituency desires to be represented by a woman, who has any right to say that it shall not be so represented, any more than I, gentle reader, have a right to say that you shall not appoint a woman as agent or representative in any business you desire to have transacted? And, in the second place, what kind of a woman must it be who would succeed in carrying a constituency? A Jane Addams, perhaps, a Beatrice Potter Webb, an Olive Schreiner, a Dr. Helen Macmurchy—some few women of outstanding force and character; and greatly would the wisdom and efficiency of any parliament be enhanced by such additions. As to government office, to be in the Cabinet, a woman would have to belong to a Government commanding the confidence of the majority of members of the popular House. Surely this is enough to say on that point. But here looms up another chimaera. Women would exercise a solid vote! The solid female vote would carry anything women wanted. But what prospect is there of such a solid vote, when we see such wide divergence amongst women on the initial point of whether their sex should have the vote at all or not? If women cannot agree in desiring the political enfranchisement of their own sex, it is little likely that they will agree in minor matters. No, if women show a united front in favour of any public cause, it will be in such matters as we have seen the United and Local Councils of Women are now advocating-it will be only in the cause of justice, and mercy and right; and if, like Disraeli, we are on the side of the angels, we shall give them the support of the parliamentary vote, and any other help we can.

I cannot close this article without mentioning an argument in this matter which has for a long time seemed convincing to my own mind, though I admit it is of a rather philosophical and abstract character. It is this.

The character of national life is everywhere necessarily the resultant of many converging forces. Some of these are material, some personal. The personal may be termed comprehensively the stream of male tendency on the one hand, and the stream of female tendency on the other. If one of these forces—if the stream of female tendency—is blocked and checked at its source by denying the parliamentary vote, and the power which flows therefrom, to women, we can never have anything but a lopsided national life. The same thing on a smaller scale has proved true in domestic life. The most conservative of men in these days would scarcely deny that our domestic life is higher and fuller than domestic life could have been in days when the wife, as to person and property, was in complete subjection to her husband. When the Roman bride, in days when Roman women had emancipated themselves from legal subjection to their husbands, crossed the threshold of her husband's home for the first time, she used to say "Ubi tu Caius, ibi ego Caia,"1 thus asserting her claim to a share of influence and control in domestic matters. When in public matters, Canadian women can say to the male voter, “Ubi tu Caius, ibi ego Caia", then, and then only, can we hope for a full and perfect development of national life.



University of Toronto.

1 “Where thou art Caius, there I am Caia.”


T is always possible for the author who has failed in life to

win the popular verdict, to exchange his failure for the notoriety which attends on a provocative biography. A generation , feebler than that which learned discipline from Carlyle, imagined itself his scholar when it gossiped of the Chelsea household and Mr. Froude. But no such chance of posthumous popularity will attend the appearance of these letters of the last great Victorian. They have, his son confesses, "been printed first and foremost for his friends, and this fact must explain whatsoever may appear illogical, superfluous, and maybe obscure in this book.” They are a gift to those who have earned the right to read them through previous knowledge of the master's works; and have little for the trivial and facile lover of literary gossip. "Our books contain the best of us," was Meredith's own verdict to a would-be interviewer; and his letters furnish rather footnotes, illuminating and personal, on his intellectual life, than a continuous epistolary biography. Yet lovers of Meredith could have wished for some more explicit record. We hear voices, but would fain look on the talkers. Conjecture and imagination help us to fill in the vacant spaces, but it is surely something better than foolish curiosity, which bids us ask for further details of the mere circumstance of the man's daily life, of the meetings with friends whom most of us know simply as names, and of the very English society which gives both letters and novels their natural background. If only Lord Morley could have given us one more masterpiece of philosophic biography—or even an essay!

Still, the gods have been good in permitting these letters, and few tasks are more attractive than that of piecing together from novels and letters a mosaic of impressions—the man, George Meredith.

From the aesthetic point of view the letters contain some admirable pieces of self - revelation. Not


*Letters of George Meredith: collected and edited by his son. don and New York, 1912.

that, like Stevenson, he was troubled with an over-consciousness of himself; for Meredith was as free from literary vanity as from foolish modesty. But he was steadily confronted with the challenge of unpopularity, and self-defence was as natural to him in these letters as it was to Newman in a greater Apologia. His defence, conscious and unavowed, presents to us a very subtle, critical, intellectualist, endeavouring to make his prose adequate to the variety and weight of his thought. As with other men of tyrannous imagination, poetry was an easier task for him than prose; he confessed that it taxed him less. In prose, he girt himself as for battle, and expected preparation in his readers. "Few Englishmen can write a resonant prose dialogue that is not blatant,” he said, "and when avoiding those alarms, they drop to flabbiness." Tho truth is that, in prose fiction, he set himself tasks far more complex and difficult than the older simple, romantic, natural schools had dreamed of.

Yet Meredith's intellectualism must not be misunderstood. It had nothing weakly subjective in it. Indeed the let

. ters give eloquent proof of the power of things external over him. He rarely wrote, he told Dr. Augustus Jessop, save from the suggestion of something actually observed; and he counted himself a Realist. “Realism is the basis of good composition; it implies study, observation, artistic power, and (in those who can do more) humility.

When we forsake earth, we reach up to a frosty inimical Inane. For my part, I love and cling to earth, as the one piece of God's handiwork which we possess. I admit that we can refashion; but of earth must be the material.” In a very literal sense, earth, and English earth, was the material out of which he made his stories. The letters reveal how generously he drew on the life round him for his characters. He did not spare the circle of his more immediate friends, as when Mrs. Janet Ross became Rose Jocelyn, or Leslie Stephen, Vernon Whitford in the Egoist, or, still more notably, when Admiral Maxse reappeared as the hero of Beauchamp's Career. His rustics are as directly drawn from life as those of Hardy himself. Like all the other great novelists, he was a historian rather than an inventor. One may watch him gather even trivial figures for the comedy. He had been at Lords to see the Gentlemen against the Players.


"First rate match, and I had a fine set of characters about me: old country squires; knights and lords; old cricketing hands hot for the honour of the game. Notably a Colonel Mamused me, and shall see himself if he looks one day in a book of mine." But, asks the critic, if like Scott and Wordsworth he went to life for his material whether in poetry or prose, whence came the obscurity, and the aloofness from common fact, which make his work impossible to the crowd? There, too, the letters help. Most obviously the style with him was the man, for although the letters read more simply than do his novels, they grow steadily more Meredithian; until one comes to understand that it was Meredith's singular faculty for difficult but illuminating metaphor, and his entirely intellectual and complicated outlook, on life, that made his methods strange to those who bring neither imagination nor reason to the reading of books. Like Milton or Landor, he made no appeal to those who refused the exercise of thinking as they read. Mr. J. C. Smith drew from him an illustration of his methods in imagination when he asked concerning "the meaning of the line in 'Hymn to Colour';_'By this the dark-winged planet. "If you observe the planet Venus at the hour when the dawn does no more than give an intimation, she is full of silver, and darkness surrounds her. So she seems to me to fly on dark wings. The image will come home to you by looking at her; explanations barely present it. 'Black star' is common in classic poets. It is true I push the epithet farther. But so I saw it.

So extraordinarily subtle a piece of imaginative description suggests that, as in the novels, Meredith's sheer Celtic joy in nature will be everywhere apparent in the letters. But he wandered little, and, in his letters, took much for granted in this respect. His friends knew what he loved, and the letters merely indicate, in short-hand fashion, the nature which became explicit in the novels. Yet there are purple patches. "Nothing can be grander,” he writes from Meran, “than the colossal mountains of porphory and dolomite shining purple and rosy, snow-capped here and there, with some tumultuous river noising below, and that eternal stillness overhead, save when some great peak gathers the thunders and bellows for a time. Then to see the white sulphurous masks curl and cover

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